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 illustrate excerpts from the Gospels read in order at mat- ins between easter and Pentecost.
These scenes, though more extensive for the inclusion of individual cycles previously painted in the narthex, ad- hered fairly well to the tradition of the previous century. Moreover, the story of Christ’s life—his teachings, activi- ties, passion, resurrection and repeated manifestations, all assembled in the central space—was depicted to the be- lievers in all its segments and messages. The parishioners could find both consolation and encouragement in their cathedral. in the previous century, the infant Christ in his Mother’s lap and with the bread-basket had already been denoted as the Provider, while on a fresco dating from King Milutin’s time his large picture bore the epithet of the Pri- zren Provider. in the ever-open main church in the town, its inhabitants did see in the holy pictures not only lofty examples of the Christian martyrs but also the Saints whom they venerated for personal reasons. among them the holy physicians were given a special place as the populace of- ten addressed them for help.
The additional space available for paintings following reconstruction did not necessarily result in a greater num- ber of subjects treated, since narrative tendencies in art had led to expansion of the number of specific cycles and of their episodes, lending them a more complex aura. in the central part of the Ljeviša Church, the scenes, though of a smaller format than the previous ones, did not yet have the character of developed compositions. Despite the changes in use of space, they retained the simplicity of the basic scheme, a special monumentality marking the older paintings.
it is in the same spirit that we see on the surfaces of the groined vaults and lateral sides of the southern outer aisle, the life of St. Nicholas to whom this special chapel was dedicated. Moral themes customarily adorning the monastic premises are portrayed at the other end on the floor above the internal narthex, in the katechoumena ac- cessible primarily to clerics gathered round the archbish- op’s throne. The popular medieval tale of King joasaph and the monk Barlaam illustrates the story of human pride with the tree as a symbol of life whose roots are gnawed by mice. This is shown on the western side of the church. and while man lightheartedly sips honey, Hell is lying in wait for him with its jaws wide open. The images of deep- ly venerated warriors George and Demetrius on horse- back are shown on the northern and southern side of the same space. in the east is Daniel the Prophet whose firm faith saved him from the lion’s den.
The frescos of the exonarthex are of a different char- acter and have been better preserved. They mainly repeat scenes painted earlier in the western parts of the church in the narthex or in the frescos behind the porch. But the internal content and artistic mode reveal profound chang- es. Thorough investigations into the paintings of that time and specifically of the Mother of God of Ljeviša have
Saint Cyril of Alexandria, altar,
Church of the Mother of God of Ljeviša, 1308–1314
explained its new character and the spiritual layers it stemmed from.
it is usually the narrative character of sacral themes in increasingly complex depictions that used indirect lan- guage which was not always easy to follow. Some mani- festations were presented in symbols and their meaning in allegories which often demanded a theological and lit- erary education on the part of the viewer. This kind of lan- guage, incomprehensible to the needy expecting help at the church door, but interesting and convincing to those who endeavored to fathom what the wall-paintings inter- preted, found in the outer narthex a veritable treasury at the very entrance over a wide arch. Believers came upon slender winged female figures borrowed from a series of classical personifications. The northern one represents Day with a rhipidion in her hands, whose brilliance inti- mates the coming of the New Testament, the truth as
The Cathedral of the Mother of God of Ljeviša

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